Rangel Shindig on Schedule Despite Ethics Woes

Most-belated birthday celebrations involve a simple Hallmark card or a witty note about how someone forgot.

But not for embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY).

Tonight, Rangel is poised for a fundraising birthday blowout at the posh Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Even though his 80th birthday fell in mid June.

The guest list includes New York Gov. David Paterson (D), New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and performances by Dionne Warwick and Chuck Jones.

The fundraising gala is sold out with more than 800 people expected.

The fundraiser comes as Rangel faces a slate of 13 alleged ethics violations and awaits a House trial in September. On Tuesday, Rangel tweaked many rank-and-file Democrats during an extraordinary floor speech by daring them to throw him out of the House.

The timing of the high-profile event couldn't have come at a worse moment for jittery Democrats who want Rangel off the political radar screen as they face their worst re-election climate in 16 years. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) joins Rangel in also facing an ethics hearing in September.

But few of Rangel's House colleagues are expected. Only six of New York's 27 House Democrats are likely to attend.

Rangel is accused of failing to pay income taxes on a vacation villa in the Dominican Republic, raising money for a collegiate public affairs center while using Congressional resources and improperly leasing four rent-controlled apartments in Harlem.